Summer lunch program underway

 


Volunteers were in the kitchen at J.A. Wendt elementary school preparing meals on Monday for the first day of the summer food program, which will provide lunches to local kids for the next six weeks.

The program, which provided 5,300 meals last summer, as well as GAP bags and breakfast boxes, is pared down a bit this year, “because of the great response in the CARES Act to provide pandemic EBT benefits to families,” Coordinator Suzanne Holmes said.

This summer, they are using the donations made in past years for the program. They were able to save that money for future use thanks to covid funds, which are no longer available. Holmes said they are also doing almost all their ordering through the Cathlamet Market, and she is grateful for the help she has received from them.

Volunteers are preparing grab and go lunches for the week, as well as simple hot lunches for summer school students on Mondays and Wednesdays. Summer school students will have cold sandwiches and wraps on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Grab and go lunches are easier for families and certainly for the volunteers,” Holmes said. “We encourage them to pick up their meals one day a week. We can accommodate it, but having a volunteer run four lunches down to the fairgrounds puts a lot on volunteers. It makes it easier for families too, who don’t have to make the daily trip to a drop off spot or the school.”


The grab and go lunches contain a protein based main dish, fresh fruit and vegetables, a bag of chips, and a cookie or dessert.

People signed up for the program can pick up their weekly meals at a prearranged time on Mondays and Wednesday at J.A. Wendt, at the fairgrounds in Skamokawa, or at the Norse hall on Puget Island.

So far, there are 55 children participating, but volunteers are happy to provide for more.

Unlike last year, there’s nobody at the school answering the phone, Holmes said. Instead, they ask that families contact Healthy Community Specialist Virginia Martin at Health and Human Services, 360-849-9619, or go to https://wa-wahkiakumcounty.civicplus.com/532/Food-Assistance and look for the summer lunch program link.


“We’re hoping more folks sign up,” Martin said. “It was a really valuable resource last year and we are glad to be collaborating with food banks. We know folks have struggled this past year and just want to get food in people’s stomachs.”

In other words, they aren’t asking too many questions, they just want to get the food to the kids who need it.

The program ends on July 29.

 

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